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  • August 19, 2015
  • 01:09 PM
  • 699 views

The Mechanics of a Hummingbird’s tongue

by Bernadeta Dadonaite in The Question Gene

How the tongue of a hummingbird is a perfect example of form fits function... Read more »

Rico-Guevara, A., & Rubega, M. (2011) The hummingbird tongue is a fluid trap, not a capillary tube. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(23), 9356-9360. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1016944108  

  • August 19, 2015
  • 06:30 AM
  • 1,413 views

Epigenetics And The Evil Twin

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Monozygotic twins share 100% of their genes. Does this make them identical? Not by a long shot. Epigenetics is the field of study that looks at how environment can change how something looks or works without changing its genes. Is epigenetics responsible for evil twin syndrome in American television?... Read more »

Spannhoff, A., Kim, Y., Raynal, N., Gharibyan, V., Su, M., Zhou, Y., Li, J., Castellano, S., Sbardella, G., Issa, J.... (2011) Histone deacetylase inhibitor activity in royal jelly might facilitate caste switching in bees. EMBO reports, 12(3), 238-243. DOI: 10.1038/embor.2011.9  

Kahn, H., Graff, M., Stein, A., Zybert, P., McKeague, I., & Lumey, L. (2008) A fingerprint characteristic associated with the early prenatal environment. American Journal of Human Biology, 20(1), 59-65. DOI: 10.1002/ajhb.20672  

Zwijnenburg, P., Meijers-Heijboer, H., & Boomsma, D. (2010) Identical but not the same: The value of discordant monozygotic twins in genetic research. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics. DOI: 10.1002/ajmg.b.31091  

Thacker, D., Gruber, P., Weinberg, P., & Cohen, M. (2009) Heterotaxy Syndrome with Mirror Image Anomalies in Identical Twins. Congenital Heart Disease, 4(1), 50-53. DOI: 10.1111/j.1747-0803.2008.00229.x  

  • August 12, 2015
  • 08:15 AM
  • 1,499 views

When A Twin Vanishes

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

The things that can happen to twins in the womb before they can be born are bizarre. Some get absorbed by their sibling and some just vanish. Two conjoined twins might grow differently and one may becomes a parasite – one boy just had a second face coming out of his chest that could smile, blink and cry. Even scarier - many of you are harboring a twin right now.... Read more »

Navaei AA, Habibi Z, Moradi E, & Nejat F. (2015) Parasitic rachipagus twins; report of two cases. Child's nervous system : ChNS : official journal of the International Society for Pediatric Neurosurgery, 31(6), 1001-3. PMID: 25715843  

Daga, B., Chaudhary, V., Ingle, A., Dhamangaokar, V., Jadhav, D., & Kulkarni, P. (2009) Double fetus-in-fetu: CT scan diagnosis in an adult. Indian Journal of Radiology and Imaging, 19(3), 216. DOI: 10.4103/0971-3026.54890  

Zahed, L., Oreibi, G., Darwiche, N., & Mitri, F. (2004) Potential trisomy 21 misdiagnosis by amniocentesis due to a resorbed twin. Prenatal Diagnosis, 24(12), 1013-1013. DOI: 10.1002/pd.918  

Lakhoo, K., Ringo, Y., Sillo, T., & Drake, D. (2012) Parasitic twin within spina bifida. African Journal of Paediatric Surgery, 9(3), 240. DOI: 10.4103/0189-6725.104728  

  • August 5, 2015
  • 08:36 AM
  • 812 views

The ones that get away—does intensive fishing make fish harder to catch?

by naturallyspeakingpodcast in Naturally Speaking Podcast

Are humans changing the course of evolution in wild fish populations? A new study making media waves today provides tantalizing evidence of a mechanism by which this may happen. In our new Naturally Speaking Reports, one of our editors caught up with Institute Senior Research Fellow Shaun Killen, the author of the study, to find out more about […]

... Read more »

Shaun S. Killen, Julie J. H. Nati, & Cory D. Suski. (2015) Vulnerability of individual fish to capture by trawling is influenced by capacity for anaerobic metabolism. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. info:/10.1098/rspb.2015.0603

  • August 5, 2015
  • 08:10 AM
  • 1,090 views

One Egg, Two People, A Bunch of Reasons

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Man has been cloning himself for thousands of years. They’re called monozygotic twins. But how it occurs naturally is still a mystery. Identical twinning isn’t common, but is increased by in vitro fertilization techniques. Maybe this will give clues as to why one embryo splits. And if it doesn’t split completely – conjoined twins.... Read more »

  • July 29, 2015
  • 10:30 AM
  • 906 views

It’s 11 PM, Do You Know Where Your Organs Are?

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

It’s a miracle that a human body ever works like it’s supposed to. So many things can go wrong and there’s so few ways for things to be right. Ever hear of a defect called situs ambiguus? It’s a big problem. And what’s more, when something like transposition of the great arteries occurs, it’s only a second defect that keeps the patients alive.... Read more »

  • July 28, 2015
  • 07:53 AM
  • 271 views

New evidence for cultural differences in Chimpanzees

by TakFurTheKaffe in Tak Fur The Kaffe

New evidence has emerged, reporting cultural differences between neighbouring groups of chimps in Uganda – raising more questions as to what really distinguishes us from our closest living relatives. ... Read more »

  • July 22, 2015
  • 08:10 AM
  • 1,111 views

Organs Don’t Always Follow The Plan

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Do you know where your heart is located? Do you know exactly? Maybe not. It isn’t where most people think it is, and in some people it’s on the opposite side. Situs inversus is a mirror imaging of internal organs, and it’s caused by a faulty motorboat rotor on the embryo.... Read more »

  • July 15, 2015
  • 03:03 PM
  • 1,058 views

Journal Club: Starlings on Prozac: How pharmaceuticals may affect wildlife

by GrrlScientist in Maniraptora

SUMMARY: Recent research suggests that the commonly prescribed psychiatric drug, Prozac, occurs at environmentally relevant concentrations that can significantly alter behaviour and physiology in wild birds .. Read more... Read more »

Bean, T., Boxall, A., Lane, J., Herborn, K., Pietravalle, S., & Arnold, K. (2014) Behavioural and physiological responses of birds to environmentally relevant concentrations of an antidepressant. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 369(1656), 20130575-20130575. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2013.0575  

Crockett, M., Siegel, J., Kurth-Nelson, Z., Ousdal, O., Story, G., Frieband, C., Grosse-Rueskamp, J., Dayan, P., & Dolan, R. (2015) Dissociable Effects of Serotonin and Dopamine on the Valuation of Harm in Moral Decision Making. Current Biology, 25(14), 1852-1859. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.05.021  

Markman, S., Müller, C., Pascoe, D., Dawson, A., & Buchanan, K. (2011) Pollutants affect development in nestling starlings Sturnus vulgaris. Journal of Applied Ecology, 48(2), 391-397. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2010.01931.x  

  • July 15, 2015
  • 08:25 AM
  • 1,151 views

Ovaries March To A Different Drummer

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

A woman’s right ovary kicks her left ovary’s behind. It puts out more hormones and more pregnancies result from right-sided ovulations than from left-sided ovulations. And there’s none of this right-left stuff you’ve been taught, the ovaries don’t have to take turns ovulating every other month. In fact, a study showed that the best chance for pregnancy is if the ovulation pattern is left-left-right over a three-cycle interval. ... Read more »

Zheng, X., O’Connor, J., Huchzermeyer, F., Wang, X., Wang, Y., Wang, M., & Zhou, Z. (2013) Preservation of ovarian follicles reveals early evolution of avian reproductive behaviour. Nature, 495(7442), 507-511. DOI: 10.1038/nature11985  

  • July 8, 2015
  • 08:30 AM
  • 920 views

What the Heck Are Those Doing There?

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

The neuroendocrine system has lots of exceptions, and this includes the male testes. Just why are they housed outside the main body cavities where they are vulnerable to all sorts of dangers, including your siblings’ kicks? You may think you know, but you probably have only part of the answer. Why is one bigger than the other and why do some animals only have one? ... Read more »

Bogaert, A. (1997) Genital asymmetry in men. Human Reproduction, 12(1), 68-72. DOI: 10.1093/humrep/12.1.68  

  • July 1, 2015
  • 08:30 AM
  • 838 views

Thinking Asymmetrically About Hormones

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Your endocrine glands are stimulated or suppressed by hormones. They in turn dump hormones into the blood. Blood goes everywhere equally. So why is your left adrenal gland bigger than your right? And why is the size difference larger in domesticated foxes as opposed to wild foxes? For that matter, why is the size of the right lobe of your thyroid gland depend on which hand you use to write!?... Read more »

Trut LN, Prasolova LA, Kharlamova AV, & Plyusnina IZ. (2002) Directional left-sided asymmetry of adrenals in experimentally domesticated animals. Bulletin of experimental biology and medicine, 133(5), 506-9. PMID: 12420075  

Hojaij, F., Vanderlei, F., Plopper, C., Rodrigues, C., Jácomo, A., Cernea, C., Oliveira, L., Marchi, L., & Brandão, L. (2011) Parathyroid gland anatomical distribution and relation to anthropometric and demographic parameters: a cadaveric study. Anatomical Science International, 86(4), 204-212. DOI: 10.1007/s12565-011-0111-0  

  • June 24, 2015
  • 08:00 AM
  • 854 views

The CPU In Your Head

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

It’s hard to believe, but part of your brain – the part that controls your body systems – actually comes from your mouth! What’s more, that same part of the brain talks to cells in your lungs that can smell what you breathe in and may have something to do with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.... Read more »

Gu, X., Karp, P., Brody, S., Pierce, R., Welsh, M., Holtzman, M., & Ben-Shahar, Y. (2014) Chemosensory Functions for Pulmonary Neuroendocrine Cells. American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology, 50(3), 637-646. DOI: 10.1165/rcmb.2013-0199OC  

  • June 19, 2015
  • 06:30 PM
  • 1,268 views

Fibonacci Numbers And Odd Lungs

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Most people think that because they have a pair of lungs, they must be symmetrical – but they’re far from it. The Fibonacci sequence has a lot to do with structural asymmetries in the lungs. On the other hand, some animals have only one lung, some have three lungs, and some have no lungs at all.... Read more »

Wilkinson M, Kok PJ, Ahmed F, & Gower DJ. (2014) Caecilita Wake . Zootaxa, 383-8. PMID: 24871732  

Bickford, D., Iskandar, D., & Barlian, A. (2008) A lungless frog discovered on Borneo. Current Biology, 18(9). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2008.03.010  

Goldberger AL, West BJ, Dresselhaus T, & Bhargava V. (1985) Bronchial asymmetry and Fibonacci scaling. Experientia, 41(12), 1537-8. PMID: 4076397  

  • June 3, 2015
  • 08:15 AM
  • 1,056 views

Left-Handers Have Prettier Brains

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Take a quick look at the human brain and it seems very symmetrical. Well, it’s not. Which hand you use can help determine just how symmetrical your brain actually is, and for some people that’s really important – they were born with only half a brain!... Read more »

Rogers, L., Zucca, P., & Vallortigara, G. (2004) Advantages of having a lateralized brain. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 271(Suppl_6). DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2004.0200  

Muckli, L., Naumer, M., & Singer, W. (2009) Bilateral visual field maps in a patient with only one hemisphere. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(31), 13034-13039. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0809688106  

  • May 27, 2015
  • 08:47 PM
  • 764 views

Evolution of Darwin’s finches and their beaks revealed by genome sequencing

by Andrea Vucicevic in genome ecology evolution etc

Introduction Darwin’s finches from Galapagos and Cocos Island are classic example of young adaptive radiation, entirely intact because none of the species having become extinct as a result of human activity. They have diversified in beak sizes and shapes, feeding … Continue reading →... Read more »

Lamichhaney, S., Berglund, J., Almén, M., Maqbool, K., Grabherr, M., Martinez-Barrio, A., Promerová, M., Rubin, C., Wang, C., Zamani, N.... (2015) Evolution of Darwin’s finches and their beaks revealed by genome sequencing. Nature, 518(7539), 371-375. DOI: 10.1038/nature14181  

  • May 27, 2015
  • 08:00 AM
  • 909 views

Hermit Houses And Fiddler Claws

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Fiddler crabs are an evolutionary marvel. Their major claw is huge, it plays a role in mate selection, but not just in the way you’d think.
Some species are right-clawed and some can have the major claw on either side, but if they lose one and grow it back, the major claw might switch sides! The new major claw isn’t as good for fighting, so he fakes being strong and tries to win without fighting.
... Read more »

Backwell, P., Matsumasa, M., Double, M., Roberts, A., Murai, M., Keogh, J., & Jennions, M. (2007) What are the consequences of being left-clawed in a predominantly right-clawed fiddler crab?. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 274(1626), 2723-2729. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2007.0666  

  • May 21, 2015
  • 10:22 AM
  • 758 views

Social Contagion: When Fish Go with the Flow

by Bernadeta Dadonaite in The Question Gene

How contagious behaviour spreads in schooling fish... Read more »

Rosenthal SB, Twomey CR, Hartnett AT, Wu HS, & Couzin ID. (2015) Revealing the hidden networks of interaction in mobile animal groups allows prediction of complex behavioral contagion. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112(15), 4690-5. PMID: 25825752  

  • May 20, 2015
  • 01:48 PM
  • 829 views

Can we save the Golden-winged Warbler by burning the place down?

by Jente Ottenburghs in Evolutionary Stories

The endangered Golden-winged Warbler can be conserved by fire management.... Read more »

  • May 20, 2015
  • 08:00 AM
  • 1,001 views

The Ugly Butterfly Gets The Girl

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

A current theory is that humans (and other animals) perceive symmetry as beauty and is desirable in a mate. Symmetric bodies and faces are correlated with strength, overall health, facial beauty, and dancing ability, but also with extramarital affairs. On the other hand, on butterfly thrives on ugliness. Asymmetric wings actually help males fly better during sexual competitions and gives them a reproductive advantage.... Read more »

Little, A., Paukner, A., Woodward, R., & Suomi, S. (2012) Facial asymmetry is negatively related to condition in female macaque monkeys. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 66(9), 1311-1318. DOI: 10.1007/s00265-012-1386-4  

Fink, B., Weege, B., Manning, J., & Trivers, R. (2014) Body symmetry and physical strength in human males. American Journal of Human Biology, 26(5), 697-700. DOI: 10.1002/ajhb.22584  

Thomas F, Doyon J, Elguero E, Dujardin JP, Brodeur J, Roucher C, Robert V, Missé D, Raymond M, & Trape JF. (2015) Plasmodium infections and fluctuating asymmetry among children and teenagers from Senegal. Infection, genetics and evolution : journal of molecular epidemiology and evolutionary genetics in infectious diseases, 97-101. PMID: 25725158  

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